Wednesday, August 1, 2012


This past Saturday we very suddenly and very unexpectedly lost our dear kitty Juliett.  She was just barely seven years old and was part of our family for six of those years.  She died of what was most likely an undetected heart condition, according to the vet who cared for her.  She was her normal self in the morning, and left us far to quickly that afternoon. 

All of us who have shared our lives with a pet know just how hard the loss is. 

Juliett was so thoroughly part of our lives that I feel her absence keenly throughout the day.  I even think of her when I feed the fish, because she always was there to "help" and lick a few flakes of the fish's food. 

She was always there to finish the ice cream in my bowl, or steal the pepperoni from the frozen pizza.  I scolded her far too often for jumping on the table or scratching at the back door.  I would have let her scratch all the doors in the house if it could have granted her a few more years with us. 

She was a cat who would sit up on her hind legs to rub her head against an outstretched hand.  She'd give forehead kisses to anyone at eye level.  She didn't run when babies cried; she came to the room to see what was wrong.  She came to me if I cried, or even if I didn't cry - she still knew if something was bothering me. 

She tolerated the addition of not just one fluffy kitten (Ollie), but THREE more two years later.  She even let Humphrey lick her ears once in awhile. She accepted the new human lives we brought home, and enjoyed them with more than the usual feline tolerance. 


Juliett knew just how to strike a balance between family affection and feline aloofness.  No matter what, she was always there.  

We walked her on a leash, endlessly.  We packed her up and took her on weekend trips with us. She moved with us from Rhode Island to Maryland to South Carolina, and all the little stops in between. 

Juliett spent her first year as a stray, and was taken in by a kind woman around the time she gave birth to three kittens.  She was brought to a shelter where her kittens were quickly adopted. I went looking for a pet - dog or cat?  I didn't know; we had just started our Coast Guard life and were, after a year of marriage, finally living in a house that allowed pets.  There were so many cats to choose from. While I talked with a shelter volunteer I absent-mindedly reached my fingers through the cage of a playful tabby at eye level.  She chose me and I brought her home that day.  Her name then was Chloe - my family had just lost our own 15-year-old Chloe earlier that summer.  It seemed appropriate. 

She was a serious cat.  And by that I mean, serious about being a cat.  She depended on those daily outings on her leash for a chance to be out in the green grass.  Those outings gave purpose and routine to my under-employed, pre-motherhood days. Once we moved to Maryland and she proved trustworthy off the leash, she showed off her prowess as a hunter, catching everything from birds to voles to rabbits to skinks. Those she would find in the garage, and bring into the house, loudly announcing her catch.  Her proudest moment was catching a squirrel - twice, in fact - shortly after we moved here.  Most afternoons she begged to go back outside, just so she could snooze in the sunshine. 

In seven years I dare say Juliett lived a more fully feline life than many twice her age. 

And like Don said, she always came back.  She jumped fences, climbed trees, wandered too far, disappeared in the marsh grasses and even once down a storm drain, but always, she came back.  Most of the time she came when I called her.  She didn't have to; she was so comfortable and competent in the great outdoors, she could have up and left, but she didn't.  She always, happily, came back.  

Saturday was so devastating because for the first time, she didn't come back. 

No, now she is waiting: 

"Just this side of heaven lies the Rainbow Bridge. When a beloved pet dies, it goes to the Rainbow Bridge. It makes friends with other animals and frolics over the rolling hills and peaceful lush meadows of green.  Our pets do not thirst or hunger.  The old and sick become young once more; the maimed and the ill become healed and strong.  They are as healthy and playful as we remember them in days gone by.  Though happy and content, they still miss someone very special, someone they had to leave behind.  Together, the animals chase and play, but the day comes when a pet will suddenly stop and look into the distance... bright eyes intent, eager body quivering.
Suddenly recognizing you, your pet bounds quickly across the green fields and into your embrace.
You celebrate in joyous reunion.  You will never again separate.  Happy tears and kisses are warm and plentiful, your hands caress the face you missed.  You look once more into the loving eyes of your pet and know that you never really parted.  You realize that though out of sight, your love had been remembered.  And now, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together." -Author Unknown

 And so for now we must content ourselves with a thousand memories and hundreds of pictures.  Now I do not need to fear losing her.  I know that sweet Juliett will always be with us, close in our hearts. 

1 comment:

  1. I really am sorry for your loss, Susan. I hope your house isn't feeling too empty these days.